On Saturday, November 21st the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) held its 2015 International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day (ISOSLD) at the CarePlus NJ headquarters to create a sense of community and support for those who have been affected by suicide loss within Northern New Jersey.
The day started by welcoming attendees into the CarePlus Wellness Café for coffee, tea and breakfast. During this time everyone was invited to take a seat, create a name tag and begin to connect with each other. As the room filled with over 40 individuals and families affected by suicide loss, the program began. Jamisin Saracino, Director of Advocacy and Community Education at CarePlus, a member of the AFSP North Jersey Chapter and loss survivor, shared her personal story that brought her to become involved with the AFSP.
Saracino expressed her gratitude to Kris Pendy, CarePlus Senior Vice President, for providing the space for the event, and then encouraged each person in the room introduce themselves and share what brought them to the ISOSLD.
“Suicide loss survivors often feel very alone and isolated within their grief,” began Saracino. “It can be a monumental moment – to begin the healing process – when you meet another person who has experienced the same kind of loss.”
The keynote speaker for the day was Wendy Sefcik, suicide loss survivor, mental health advocate, and public speaker.
Sefcik explained her passion for speaking on suicide loss and stressed the importance of sharing the stories of those loved ones that everyone was there to remember. She encouraged the survivors of suicide loss to “wear their broken hearts like medals of honor; to remember their loved ones not as they died by as they lived their lives”.
After lunch, attendees took their seats again to view the screening of Family Journeys: Healing and Hope after a Suicide. The short documentary produced by the AFSP followed real families that shared their stories of survival after suicide.
“What makes ISOSLD so special is that suicide loss survivors all around the world gather together,” continued Saracino. “They come together at community events, such as this one today, or within the privacy of their own home, and are able to view this documentary; therefore creating a greater sense of the survivor loss community.”